Keeping your site safe over the Christmas break

The holiday season is almost upon us, and we’re all eager to have a bit of a rest, recharge, and spend quality time with our families. As we wind up 2023, it is a demanding time for construction as we try to complete jobs before the holiday shutdown. This can make it tempting to take shortcuts, however, it can also lead to an increase in incidents, with the last two months of the year seeing a spike in workplace incidents. 

Common factors can include time pressure, working in the heat, and fatigue. It’s important that we all keep the health, safety, and well-being of workers first, especially at this time of year.

It is important to start preparing for the Christmas shutdown so that you don’t have any interruptions during your break or come to a nasty surprise on your first day back. This is particularly important with residential sites which are mostly in populated areas.

Unsecured sites could be hazardous to members of the public, especially children, particularly with sites near parks, schools, homes or recreational areas. Children are unaware of the dangers of a construction site so keeping them out is key. 

A safe and secure site is more than just locking the gates. Ask yourself the following questions:

Is the worksite fenced off from the public and the boundary secure?

Make sure your site is securely fenced and all entrances are locked. Ensure your fencing is a sufficient height and that the gap at the bottom isn’t too big that people including children could squeeze through underneath.

Is clear signage present to warn people of danger?

Make sure your Hazard Board is up to date listing the current hazards and your contact details are clearly visible in case something does pop up you can be contacted quickly. If you need to order a project for your job this can be done through the HazardCo HUB.

Have steps been taken to prevent any unauthorised access, e.g. are all ladders removed or their rungs boarded so they can’t be used?

Remove any temptation to access hazardous areas. Where practical, remove all ladders from the site, including scaffolding and excavation ladders, or block access to these accessways.

Are excavations and openings securely covered, fenced off, or backfilled?

Cover and fence off any excavations to prevent potential falls. Where practical backfilling excavations are recommended.

Is all plant immobilised to prevent unauthorised use?

If you are unable to remove your vehicles or plant from the site, make sure it is left in a secure area, preferably out of sight, with the keys removed.

Are materials safely stacked and secured?

Ensure building materials are safely stacked and stored so they can’t topple or be knocked over.

Are all flammable or dangerous substances locked away in secure storage places?

Lock up your hazardous substances in secure storage appropriate for the type of substances being stored. Where possible remove hazardous substances from the site.

Are temporary structures stable and able to withstand bad weather conditions?

Check your temporary structures such as scaffolding and barriers to ensure they are secure and stable. Taking into consideration the changing weather.

Has the mains power been switched off?

Make sure the builder’s temporary or main power supply and switchboard are switched off and locked out.

Do unwanted construction materials and waste need to be removed from the site?

A quick clean-up can make a big difference. Make sure you remove all waste and empty skip bins on site.

Doing a Site Review on the HazardCo app on the last day, before you lock up will ensure you haven’t missed out on anything. Completing one when you return back to site gives you the opportunity to pick any additional hazards that may have occurred while away.

Although not recommended, if you do have lone workers on-site over the Christmas break ensure you have a lone worker policy in place. Key points are setting up regular check-ins, first aid kit on hand, a trained first aider and don’t carry out any high-risk work. See our Lone Worker article for more details.

In higher risk areas you may want to consider organising security to do regular patrols.

Taking the time to prepare your site for the Christmas Shutdown can help to make sure you get to spend your holiday uninterrupted with your family and friends.

As always if you have any questions or would like to discuss your Health and Safety please give our Advisory Team a call on 1800 954 702.

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